Usually during postdoc application in my field applicants are asked to arrange three letters of recommendation. Sometimes one can add more than three letters. Recently I visited an institute for two weeks and gave a seminar on my work. There I also interacted with a faculty member who is a very famous. I asked him if he could write a letter for me. He told me that he could write one. But that would be very short since he knew me only for two weeks. He asked me to take letters from people who knew me for few years and also said that he could write a "fourth letter" if I insist.

Will it be a good idea to ask a letter from him?

(From my personal experience and after discussing with some other people who know him very well, I know he is an excellent human being and also very friendly.)

  • 2
    "If you insist" seems like a red flag phrase for me. I use that phrase to my students that I feel cannot write a supportive/great letters for. In the US all letters sound positive so if they insist I'll write a very generic content-less letter, but it's unlikely to be helpful.
    – Sana
    Nov 6 '16 at 17:42

I think he used short as a euphemism for generic. A short letter might still be excellent if it talks about very specific things and is to the point.

If the collaboration was intense during those 2 weeks, he might have useful things to say. More probably though, he warned you politely that his letter would be generic since he doesn't know you well enough.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.